Jewelled spectacles to auction for £4m at Sotheby’s

A pair of unseen jewelled spectacles will be auctioned in London at Sotheby’s for the first time, with estimates of £1.5 – £2.5m each.

Ahead of the sale in October, the spectacles are set to go on view to the public for the first time, with an exhibition in Hong Kong between 7-11 October and in London between 22-26 October.

Commissioned by an unknown prince in 17th Century Mughal India, an artist shaped a diamond, weighing over two hundred carats, and a brilliant emerald, weighing at least three hundred carats. No comparable example of either is known to exist, said Sotheby’s.

In circa 1890, the lenses were placed in new frames and decorated with rose-cut diamonds. The diamonds are cleaved as a pair from a single natural diamond which is “possibly the largest ever found”, and they now together weigh twenty-five carats. 

The faceting around the edge “displays extreme skill” and the teardrop-shaped emeralds originate from a single natural Colombian emerald, now weighing 27 carats. 

The pair of spectacles are from an unknown “princely treasury”, having remained in the same collection for almost half a century. They are said to “give the beholder the gift of observing the world through diamonds and emeralds”. 

Edward Gibbs, chairman of Sotheby’s Middle East and India, said: “These extraordinary curiosities bring together myriad threads – from the technical mastery of the cutter and the genius of craftsmanship to the vision of a patron who chose to fashion two pairs of eyeglasses quite unlike anything ever seen before. 

“They are undoubtedly a marvel for gemologists and historians alike, and it is a real thrill to be able to bring these treasures to light and to offer the world the opportunity to wonder at their brilliance and the mystery behind their creation.”

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